An Indian was among four pilgrims who died due to swine flu soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj, official said today.

In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s ministry of health has confirmed the death of four pilgrims from India, Sudan, Morocco and Nigeria. The ministry said all those who died had not taken the vaccine against the virus.

Three of the victims, including the Indian, were 75 years old and the fourth was a 17-year-old Nigerian, it said.

The identity of those dead have, however, not yet been revealed. The virus had cast a shadow on this year’s Hajj, as the pilgrimage is known. All able-bodied Muslims are required to perform hajj at least once in their lifetime.

It attracts about millions of people from 160 countries and begins this year on November 26, as the winter flu season approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.

The authorities have been taking measures to minimise the impact of swine flu. Eight new first aid clinics were open until mid-night to counter the second wave of the swine flu.

Additionally, 25 ICU-beds have been made operational by the ministry at the 100-bed King Saud Hospital, which will be utilised temporarily for pilgrims.

The Saudi government has recommended the elderly, pregnant women, people with chronic diseases and children skip the hajj this year.

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